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Time to Roll

Between sets at his CD release show Saturday, Tom Breiding greeted some of his fans and well-wishers. He saw me, and we shouted some pleasantries above the crowd and PA system.

"I'm psyched!" I thought I heard him say.

"That's good," I replied.

"No, I said I'm tight," Tom corrected me, meaning he thought he needed to loosen up before taking the stage again.

Whatever he did in the next few minutes must have worked. Tom and his band, American Son, put their new album, "Time to Roll," on full display for an enthusiastic audience at Cefalo's, the stylistically converted church in Carnegie.

It's always a pleasure to see Tom perform, something I unfortunately haven't done enough during the seven years or so I've known him. He puts on a good show on his own, but his quartet - also guitarist Jeff Stevens, bassist Mike "Pit" Mozena and drummer Chris Moore - has really come together as a tight performing unit, adding a new dimension to some of Tom's older song.

But Saturday night was about the new album, Tom's eighth and the first he's recorded as a project with his working band. The material is strong and the performances are sharp on disc, but hearing everything live gives it full impact.

The setlist for the CD release show peppered some older tunes in with the new, giving fans a chance to enjoy some favorites while getting used to the "Time to Roll" material. He highlighted two of his more recent albums, "Two-Tone Chevrolet" and "American Son," with selections from each of those, and his "Happy Hour in the Round Hotel" album was represented by the should've-been-a-hit "You Don't Want to Lose Her."

But a good portion of the show, of course, was devoted to "Time to Roll," with most of the album's songs showing up during the evening. A highlight was hearing Tom's heartfelt rendition of "The Music Plays On," the true story of his travails in trying to sell a composition for a film soundtrack: "Drove 500 miles for 10 minutes of your time." Needless to say, Tom deserves far better than that!

The night also included performances by Kick Start, the other project by the other guys in Tom's band, and by Bill Toms & Hard Rain, of which Tom is a regular member. (Sometimes it's tough to keep up on who's playing with whom, but it's all good music!)

While the Cefalo's gig represented the CD release show for "Time to Roll," the release PARTY is scheduled for Friday, May 12, at Moondog's in Blawnox. That evening also will include a performance by Pittsburgh-area legend Norman Nardini. (Scroll down to read a bit more about him.)

And don't forget about the special gig by Bill Toms & Hard Rain at Kenny's Castaways in New York City this Saturday, May 6. A bus trip from Pittsburgh is organized for those who want to attend.

Everyone involved should be plenty loosened up for that.


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